At sprawling Rio Games, even spectators are worn out

Wed Aug 10, 2016 1:03pm EDT
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By Paulo Prada

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Less than a week into the Olympics and people are looking tired around Rio de Janeiro.

That is not just the athletes, mind you, but the spectators trekking between hundreds of competitions across the sprawling city, where long commutes, vibrant beaches and alluring nightlife add to the exhaustion of actually watching the sports.

Catch a bus or subway back into town from one of the Games' many outlying venues, or merely walk around Olympic sites between events, and you will see people as spent as if they had completed a decathlon.

"I'm dead," said Rodrigo Escobar, a 24-year-old Argentinian who lay next to his father on a patch of grass after a handball match. "We were planning to go out tonight, but there's no way – we wouldn't have energy for tomorrow."

Part of the fatigue has to do with the logistics involved in such a large program, featuring more than 300 medal events, 11,000 athletes and venues that can be as far as 40 km (25 miles) from one another, as is the case if you wanted to catch beach volleyball and, say, canoeing in the same day.

But it also has to do with the fact that many visitors want to pack it all in, like an overeager toddler at Disney World or the first-time tourist in Paris hoping to see the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame in one day.

"People should know they have to pace themselves," says Duane Penner, a sales executive with Roadtrips Inc., a Canadian tour operator, who is in Rio with Olympic clients and says he tells them as much even before they leave home.

"You need to build some time in to rest or even take the sights in."   Continued...

Spectators rest outside the Olympic Tennis Center at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, August 9, 2016. Picture taken August 9, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Prada